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Brad Pitt is going to the California Supreme Court to challenge a decision in his ongoing custody case with Angelina Jolie. The actor has requested a review of a California appellate court's ruling to disqualify the private judge he and Jolie chose to oversee their custody dispute, ET confirms.
In July, Judge John Ouderkirk was disqualified from the custody case, vacating all of his decisions, including a previous ruling that granted Pitt more time with his and Jolie's five minor children.
Pitt's petition, obtained by ET, argues that disqualifying Ouderkirk "effectively upended the constitutionally authorized temporary judging system in California," now throwing open "the door to disqualification challenges at any point during a case, even if the party raising the motion has long been on notice about the alleged grounds for disqualification."
Attorneys for Jolie previously argued that Ouderkirk, who had been the former couple's private judge, could be biased in his rulings. Ouderkirk was hired in 2016, and his employment was extended twice during Pitt and Jolie's five-year custody battle.
In a statement to ET on Wednesday, Jolie's attorney, Robert A. Olson, said, "The Court of Appeal unanimously refused to tolerate the ethical violations of the private judge who had heard custody matters, and correctly vacated that judge’s orders."
"Mr. Pitt's counsel's petition to the California Supreme Court displays how they are clinging to this private judge who exhibited bias and refused statutorily required evidence. It is disturbing that in full knowledge of unethical behavior, and having previously failed to disclose their new and ongoing financial relationships with him, Mr. Pitt’s counsel would seek to reinstate the private judge," the statement continued. "Ms. Jolie hopes Mr. Pitt will instead join with her in focusing on the children’s needs, voices, and healing."
Pitt's attorney, Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. of Gibson Dunn, meanwhile told ET, "We are seeking review in the California Supreme Court because the temporary judge, who had been appointed and repeatedly renewed by both sides, was improperly disqualified after providing a detailed, fact-based custodial decision, following a lengthy legal process with multiple witnesses and experts."
"The lower court’s ruling will reward parties who are losing child custody cases, and condone their gamesmanship, by allowing them to wait and see about the likely direction of the case before seeking the disqualification of the judge. Condoning the use of this type of strategic ‘lie in wait’ disqualification challenge will cause irreparable harm to both the children and families involved in this case, and other families in other cases, by unnecessarily prolonging the resolution of these disputes in an already overburdened court system. Allowing this kind of crafty litigation strategy will deprive parents of irreplaceable time with their children as judges are disqualified for minor reasons in the midst of their cases," the statement added. "The lower court’s ruling is bad for children and bad for California’s overburdened judicial system."
See more on Jolie and Pitt's custody battle in the video below.